Endesa's Patache power plant faces environmental charges

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Chile's environmental supervision agency SMA has filed charges against Endesa subsidiary Compañía Eléctrica de Tarapacá's (Celta) 110MW Patache plant in northern region I.

The plant supplies electricity to Collahuasi, the world's fourth largest copper operation, controlled by Glencore Xstrata (LSE: GLEN) and Anglo American (LSE: AAL).

This is the second time in less than a month charges have been filed against a power plant linked to Endesa over environmental permit (RCA) compliance issues.

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Due to the severity of the charges, the firm faces fines of up to 5,000 annual tax units (UTA) (US$4.76mn), revocation of the coal-fired plant's RCA permit or even shutdown of the facility, SMA spokesperson Pamela Zúñiga told BNamericas.

SMA inspections discovered that at 100,000t the coal yard was over its maximum permitted capacity of 70,000t and lacked barriers to retain particulates, the ash decanter pools exceeded more than three times their 400m3 capacity and the ash dump was not properly compacted.

Inspectors also discovered an unauthorized fuel storage system, minor fuel spills and improper storage of dangerous substances, as well as dead birds and marine life in the plant's seawater intake system.

The generator has 10 days to present a compliance program and 15 days to formulate rebuttals to the charges. Failure to do so would result in double the fines, according to Zúñiga.

In related news, SMA levied charges against generator AES Gener's 600MW Renca thermo complex near Santiago for exceeding permitted sound levels, a minor SMA violation.

SMA charges were also filed against Hidroeléctrica Ensenada's 6.6MW hydro project over failure to comply with its reforestation plan and building beyond the authorized area, considered severe SMA infringements.